Esther 2:1, Question 2. Why does the verse imply that Achashverosh’s anger was not calmed?

  • Similar to yesterday’s post, the Midrash (Esther Rabbah 5:2) points out that the verse says “kisoch” (“like it was calmed”) instead of “bisoch” (“it was calmed”), implying that Achashverosh’s anger was not completely calmed. This anger will show its ugly head again towards the end of Megillas Esther once the king applies it to Haman, as it says “and the king’s anger was calmed” (7:10).
  • According to Targum Sheini, Achashverosh was not angry with Vashti, but with the advisers who allowed for her to be removed. He therefore had them killed. If so, how do the rabbis reconcile this with the opinion that Memuchan, the adviser who originates the plan to kill Vashti, was Haman (see previous posts), who is clearly alive later in the story? V’zos L’Yehudah states that Achashverosh decided that a quick death was too good for Haman, and that he should be kept around – even elevated – to lull him into a false sense of security, and should then be cut down all the more tragically.
  • The Aruchas Tamid answers that Memuchan was actually hanged along with the other advisers, but miraculously fell from the gallows alive and Persian law did not allow for a condemned criminal to hang twice for the same crime. Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss points out that this is yet another example of a miracle needed to bring the Purim story to fruition.
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Esther 2:1, Question 1. After what, exactly, did the following take place?

פרק ב

א אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה כְּשֹׁךְ חֲמַת הַמֶּלֶךְ אַֽחֲשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ זָכַר אֶתוַשְׁתִּי וְאֵת אֲשֶׁרעָשָׂתָה וְאֵת אֲשֶׁרנִגְזַר עָלֶיהָ

Chapter 2

1. After these things, when the anger of the king was like it was calmed, Achashverosh remembered Vashti, and what she did, and what was decreed against her.

In the Midrash (Esther Rabbah 5:2) there is a dispute regarding the word, “achar” (“after”). One view, that of R’ Ivo, states that it indicates immediacy, whereas the view of the Rabbis is that it indicates the passage of a significant amount of time. For our purposes, these two views allow for Achashverosh’s anger to be either natural or miraculous. If it were natural, it would take a long time for his anger to subside. If it were miraculous, then H-Shem would take away the anger as soon as it served its purpose of ridding Achashverosh of Vashti.

Esther 1:7, Question 3. What does the phrase “kiyad hamelech” “like the king’s reach” come to add to the sentence?

  • Achashverosh, having a large kingdom, had a large “stretch” – an ability to get lots of different kinds of wine. Class participant RG points out that this would further stroke the king’s ego.
  • The Sfas Emes suggests that Achashverosh, always conscious of his surroundings, would typically only drink enough wine to keep himself from being tipsy. That way, he would be restrained from giving away state secrets. The fact that he drank more in this instance is another hidden, miraculous event that led to saving of the Jews in Persia.